If we no old historian's name
Authentic will admit,
But think all said of friendship's fame
But poetry or wit;
Yet what's revered by minds so pure
Must be a bright idea sure.
But as our immortality
By inward sense we find,
Judging that if it could not be,
It would not be design'd:
So here how could such copies fall,
If there were no original?
But if truth be in ancient song,
Or story we believe;
If the inspired and greater throng
Have scorned to deceive;
There have been hearts whose friendship gave
Them thoughts at once both soft and grave.
Among that consecrated crew
Some more seraphic shade
Lend me a favourable clew,
Now mists my eyes invade.
Why, having fill'd the world with fame,
Left you so little of your flame?
Why is't so difficult to see
Two bodies and one mind?
And why are those who else agree
So difficultly kind?
Hath nature such fantastic art,
That she can vary every heart?
Why are the bands of friendship tied
With so remiss a knot,
That by the most it is defied,
And by the most forgot?
Why do we step with so light sense
From friendship to indifference?
If friendship sympathy impart,
Why this ill-shuffled game,
That heart can never meet with heart,
Or flame encounter flame?
What does this cruelty create?
Is't the intrigue of love or fate?
Had friendship ne'er been known to men,
(The ghost at last confest)
The world had then a stranger been
To all that heaven possest.
But could it all be here acquired,
Not heaven itself would be desired.
Specimens of the British Poets.
Thomas Campbell, Ed.
London: John Murray, 1844. 212.
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